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Social Control Theory and Criminal Behavior

Analyze the degree to which social control theory explains the prevention of criminal behavior.
Describe whether or not social control theory is useful for understanding and explaining the nature of criminal behavior.

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On Social Control Theory

Social control theory (SCT) is not just one theory but a set of theories that attempt to explain criminal behavior. It had its origins in the work of Travis Hirschi in 1969 when he explored the question of why people follow the law and why others don't. He proposed that the reason why criminals do why they do is because their bonds with society have weakened. At root, society is seen as a system of mores, practices, beliefs, traditions and behaviors and this includes an understanding of ethics, morality and the law. Hirschi believes that criminals do not have a strong bond with these systems because of their socialization, the environment they live within and their varied motivations that had led them to either not understand or ascribed to social standards or not know of them in the first place. Thus their relationships, values, realities, practices, faith, culture beliefs, commitments and everyday life all come together to motivate them to act in a way that is contrary to what is seen as legal, acceptable and expected behavior in society. These behaviors thus are deviant and often lead to criminality in that they lack the attachment, commitment, involvement and set of beliefs that would otherwise control their behavior. If people have been socialized (having learned from their ...

Solution Summary

The expert examines social control theory and criminal behaviors.